Thursday, February 23, 2012

Officer Safety Uber Alles: The Coercion Cartel's Prime Directive

The Minnesota state legislature is debating a measure that would amplify that state’s “Castle Doctrine” by recognizing that innocent people have no “duty to retreat” in the face of criminal aggression. 

This would expand existing legal protection for the defensive use of lethal force against home invaders -- including, where appropriate, the government-employed variety. That prospect is causing the local tax eaters’ guild to irrigate their skivvies. 

Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, complains that enactment of the measure “could result in dangerous situations for police officers, who regularly enter homes without permission,” reports Twin Cities ABC affiliate KSTP. “We’re fearful that people will react and shoot and our officers could be mistaken for someone that they believe is trying to jeopardize their safety,” simpers Flaherty. In encounters of the kind Flaherty describes, it would be more accurate to say that citizens would recognize police officers as people who “jeopardize their safety.”

In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Flaherty stated the matter even more candidly: “Officer safety is the primary concern that we have about this bill…. [E]very day in the state of Minnesota, we have peace officers that are entering on somebody’s property – often times by stealth so that we have the element of surprise. We are extremely fearful that with this shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality that this bill establishes, that we will have officers that will not only be in harm’s way, but in fact will be injured or perhaps killed.” 

The tacit subtext of Flaherty’s complaint is the assumption that in every encounter between citizens and police, officer safety is the paramount concern, and citizen safety is of negligible importance. This is why, in the words of the Rochester Post-Bulletin, “prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs across the state are lining up” to oppose the measure. 

When intruders seek to enter a home without permission, observed the Post-Bulletin, “those on the other side of the door don’t always know that it’s a police officer who is entering their residence. They might have been asleep, awakening only when they hear the sounds of a door being kicked in or footsteps on the stairs. Their judgment and awareness might be impaired by drugs, alcohol, mental illness or the belief that an abusive ex-boyfriend or rival gang members many have arrived with bad intentions.”

Minneapolis SWAT operator gets a medal for raiding the wrong house.

A likelier scenario involves the even deadlier possibility that the door has been forced open by state-licensed marauders who can kill anyone within the dwelling with impunity. 

So the appropriate remedy would be to abolish paramilitary police raids, correct? Not according to the Post-Bulletin’s editorial collective: “We’re with the law enforcement officers on this one…. This [expanded Castle Act] would give people the impression that when their front doorknob is rattled in the middle of the night, they have free license to shoot first and ask questions later. That’s not a good thing.”

A license of that kind is “not a good thing” – for anyone other than fully accredited members of the state’s punitive priesthood, of course. Whenever one of the Regime’s costumed enforcers kills a mere Mundane, he can usually avoid criminal prosecution simply by claiming that he “felt threatened” by something – a furtive gesture, a momentary refusal to cooperate, a dirty look, or something else detectable only through the mystical mind-reading facility that comes with a “peace officer” license and a piece of government-issued costume jewelry. 

Critics of the Castle Doctrine bill complain that it is unnecessary, since Minnesota state statutes already recognize that a homeowner defending his property against invaders – other than the government-employed variety – has no duty to retreat. The bill would expand legal recognition of that right to include any circumstance in which an individual’s life is threatened – and this, according to critics, would have disastrous consequences.

“There are just way too many situations that could potentially escalate to the point of using deadly force [in public] where if someone would just walk away, the deadly force could have been avoided,” complains Fergus Falls Police Chief Kile Bergen. “That’s our job; we’re supposed to go in and apprehend these people. You as a citizen, that’s not your responsibility. It might be to protect yourself, but it’s not your job to rid the world of dangerous people.”

Chief Bergen is particularly offended by the fact that the bill would establish a “reasonable individual” test for the use of deadly force. Although Bergen whines that this would give citizens “more authority than a police officer has to use deadly force,” that provision would actually apply a standard similar to as the “reasonable officer” test. The measure also criminalizes the act of disarming citizens unless this is done pursuant to a lawful arrest -- just as the state’s “resisting and obstructing” statute can be used to prosecute a citizen who disarms a police officer. 

If Chief Bergen actually thinks his job has something to do with “rid[ding] the world of dangerous people,” he’s not only unqualified to be a peace officer, he’s a tragically deluded soul who should be kept away from sharp objects. More telling still is his perception that everyday life is cluttered with situations pregnant with potential gunplay. 

That’s how police are trained to perceive the world: They see the public as an undifferentiated mass of menace, an all-encompassing threat to that most important of all human considerations, “officer safety.” This is why they are prepared to employ potentially lethal force at the first sign of non-cooperation, and escalate the encounter until the Mundane either submits or is killed. They are prepared to shoot first in the serene confidence that the questions asked later will be intended to exonerate the officer. 

Bergen’s objections – which are quite representative of the police union’s opposition to  enhanced Castle Doctrine protections – assume that citizens who take responsibility for protecting themselves will start thinking and behaving like cops. No, this isn’t quite accurate: Even in the most extravagant worst-case scenario, the expanded Castle Law wouldn’t be taken as a general license for citizens to conduct home invasion raids, like the December 2007 police assault on the home of Minneapolis resident Vang Khang.

It was after midnight when Khang’s wife, Yee Moua, heard the sound of a window shattering, followed by the quiet murmur of male voices. She frantically dialed 911 to summon the police. When the intruders came upstairs, Vang fired a shotgun at them, provoking a brief burst of return fire. Thankfully, nobody was injured, although some of the officers reported trivial shrapnel damage to their body armor. 

It was after the exchange of gunfire that the couple learned the invaders were the local SWAT team, which had been sent to the wrong address. 

The City apologized for the unjustified raid – and then presented eight SWAT officers with commendations for “perform[ing] very bravely under gunfire.”

According to Police Chief Tim Dolan, “the officers didn’t make any mistakes.” This would mean that they intended to raid the wrong house and expose innocent children to gunfire. 
Apparently, that’s the stuff of which contemporary heroism is made.

"The easy decision would have been to retreat under covering fire,” Dolan declared. “The team did not take the easy way out. This is a perfect example of a situation that could have gone horribly wrong, but did not because of the professionalism with which it was handled."

 Note how Dolan conferred the commendations on the SWAT team for refusing to retreat when the situation demanded that they do so. It was their refusal to "walk away" that Dolan considered a praiseworthy display of professionalism.

 How often do employees of privately owned businesses receive professional commendations after completely messing up? Are awards of that sort routinely handed out to private employees whose incompetence endangers innocent lives, and results in extensive damage to private property? 

More to the point: Would a private security company hand out bonuses and promotions to employees who terrorized an innocent family and perforated their home with automatic weapons fire? Of course not: Only employees of the State’s coercion cartel are permitted to behave that way.

Chief Dolan, not surprisingly, opposes the “Castle Doctrine.” This is because “lessening the burden” on citizens who confront intruders would mean they might be “more willing to take shots at the people who are behind that door” – just as Vang Khang did the night Dolan’s stormtroopers invaded his home without a warrant or just cause.

The Castle Doctrine “isn’t good for public safety,” insists Dolan, who – like most of those in his profession – appears to believe that the police are the only part of the population worth protecting. 

 Obiter dicta

On February 19, I had the singular honor to introduce Dr. Ron Paul at a campaign event in Boise:

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Dum spiro, pugno!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Global Land Grab

Retaliation: Peter Doan Van Vuon's wife examines the rubble of their demolished home.

In Vietnam, Peter Doan Van Vuon, a farmer who fought back when police came to confiscate his farm, is widely regarded as a hero. His neighbors have actually considered building a statue in his honor. In the United States, he would almost certainly be dead. 

The strike team that assaulted Vuon’s 40-hectare fish farm in Hai Phong on January 5 did demolish the family’s modest two-story home, forcing them to live in a makeshift shelter fashioned from a tarp. On previous performance it’s reasonable to say that their counterparts in the employ of the Regime in Washington would have made sure to incinerate the family as well.

The raiders – roughly 100 police and soldiers -- didn’t expect resistance when they arrived to evict the 49-year-old Vuon and his family and seize the property. Vuon’s wife, Ngyuen, had just returned from dropping off the kids at school when the strike team arrived. Rather than submitting meekly to the invaders, the Vuon family fought back, using improvised pellet guns and land mines. Nobody was killed or seriously injured, but the armored assailants – six of whom suffered trivial wounds – were forced to retreat.

In the United States, Vuon -- assuming that he survived the fire-bombing that appears to be the Regime’s preferred tactical endgame in standoffs of this kind -- would have been execrated as a would-be "cop killer." Although he and several relatives were arrested, the state-run media in Communist Vietnam “have openly sympathized with him in investigative reports,” notes the AP. “Their dispatches have alleged that Hai Phong officials lied about details of the eviction. They also have said the family was cheated in 1993 when they were given a lease of only 14 years instead of what should have been 20 years.”

More remarkable still is the fact that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung intervened to investigate the matter. After the inquiry concluded that local authorities broke the law by attempting to confiscate Vuon’s land, he ordered that the officials responsible for the destruction of the family’s home be suspended and investigated for possible criminal prosecution. 

In Vietnam, the government claims ownership of all land while issuing long-term land grants to farmers. In 1993, Vuon used his life savings to buy and reclaim a small tract of swampland, eventually establishing a small but profitable fish farm.  

In 2009, the Hai Phong city government suddenly “discovered” that Vuon’s land grant had expired and announced its intention to confiscate the property without compensation in order to sell it to land developers. When Vuon filed a lawsuit against the seizure, the court promised to let them keep the land if he dropped the case. This was a ruse: After Vuon dropped the suit, the city government initiated seizure proceedings. Deprived of any legal means to protect their property, Vuon and his family began making preparations to defend their land by force. 

The Vuon family's new home.

From the perspective of their rulers, Vuon and his family were engaged in a seditious conspiracy, particularly when it’s understood that they are not only capitalists but devout Catholics. 

At a time when Vietnam’s economy is afflicted with the highest inflation rate in Asia and confrontations between small farmers and government officials are increasingly common, Vuon’s armed defiance is a spark that could ignite a widespread conflagration. However, rather than simply extinguishing Vuon outright, Communist government of Vietnam has actually examined his grievances on their merits. 

It is impossible to believe that any affiliate or subdivision of the U.S. Government would be so conciliatory. 

Similar developments are taking place in mainland China, which like Vietnam is ruled by a one-party State that is Marxist in its professed ideology but corporatist in practice.

Gu Kul, who used to own and operate an automotive parts business in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, has been victimized by China’s predatory corporate elite. A few years ago, local urban planners, seeking to enhance their revenue stream, ordered the seizure of Gu’s 13-acre commercial property. In short order, a fleet of bulldozers arrived, protected by a small army of police and hired thugs. 

“I had to look on as bulldozers demolished my property,” Gu recounted to Der Spiegel. Not satisfied with the trivial, paltry compensation for the destruction of a profitable and growing business and the theft of his property, Gu filed a legal challenge under recently enacted national legislation that supposedly limits seizures by local governments. 

In short order, Gu found himself being constantly trailed by black-clad mercenaries in blacked-out SUVs. Their intentions were as transparent as their mirrored sunglasses were opaque. While Gu has managed to avoid capture, more than a few others have been kidnapped, tortured, and killed for objecting to the ongoing land grab – and the revolt is propagating itself across rural China.

Yang Youde used to own a thriving cotton farm in Yuhan. In 2009, local commissars, coveting the fertile land and well-stocked trout streams, announced their intention to seize the property. After Yang filed a legal petition to protest the planned confiscation, police descended on his home and hauled him away to a “black jail” where he was beaten and tortured. “They strung me up by my hands and put out cigarettes on my skin,” he recalled in an interview with the Telegraph of London.  

Yang survived his time in police custody; Xue Jingbo of Wukan, a fishing village of 10,000, wasn’t so fortunate. During late 2011, a revolt erupted in the village over land confiscation, and Xue was designated to negotiate on behalf of the population. Instead of listening to the village’s complaints, the local government ordered Xue’s arrest. While in police custody, Xue died very quickly of what officials insisted were “natural causes.” His body was never returned to his family. 

Rather than mourning, the locals organized. Thousands of protesters gathered in the village square to demand an investigation of Xue’s death and an end to the corrupt practice of seizing land for the benefit of politically connected corporate interests. Anticipating that the local government would demand reinforcements, the population erected roadblocks and other barricades at the village entrances. Using cellphones and social media, protesters contacted the BBC and other international media sources seeking to publicize the village’s plight and Xue’s murder.

After news of the protests reached a global audience last December, China’s Public Security Bureau – that nation’s equivalent of the American FBI or Russian KGB – shut down media access to Wukan and closed off most internet links to the village. 

The local government, alarmed by the extent and intensity of the protests, was actually forced to flee for two weeks. Upon their return the city officials promised to halt the ongoing land grab and investigate allegations of official corruption – for whatever a promise of that kind may be worth. 

Unfortunately, rather than simply withdrawing their consent to be ruled, the people of Wukan agreed to a series of "democratic reforms," including the appointment of a protester as a local commissar. Their exemplary defiance may have a healthier impact that the useless concessions they received.

In early February, more than 5,000 people took to the streets of East and West Pahne Villages in Zhejiang Province to protest land seizures by local officials. The villagers became aware of the seizures only after construction began on some of the stolen land.

"Officials from the village sold land,” explained local resident Lu Yeqin. “This land originally belonged to the villagers. After it was sold, the [villagers] were not given any money for it. The villagers are upset, and after all, this land was passed down through their family business. They rely on the land for their livelihood, but now it has been sold."

As happened in Wukan, local Communist Party officials took flight, regrouping in secret locations to await instructions from Beijing. Many village activists are likewise seeking intervention by the central government in the mistaken hope that this will protect them from the corruption of local functionaries. 

Tragically, they don’t understand that the land grabs are a result of central government intervention: In the teeth of a catastrophic economic downturn, China’s rulers – like their counterparts in Vietnam -- are frantically seizing land and adding to the commercial and residential real estate glut in the hope of boosting the GDP


“A large portion of China’s estimated 100,000 or so public protests each year are driven by rage over compulsory evictions,” notes the Telegraph. This is the sort of thing that would never happen in the United States, of course – except for the fact that it happens all the time. 

As the Wall Street Journal has pointed out, Chinese subjects who refuse to surrender their homes to the land-grabbers “are known as `nail households,' since their homes are sometimes left stranded in the middle of busy construction sites. More often, however, they are driven away by paid thugs."

That description summons memories of  New London, Connecticut resident Lauren Canario, who was kidnapped by rented thugs – that is, officers of the New London police department -- for refusing to vacate property that had been stolen through eminent domain on behalf of a federally subsidized "public/private partnership" (that is, fascist entity) called the New London Development Corporation (NLDC).

Lauren was not a trespasser; she was visiting the property with the permission of its owner. However, the NDLC had decided to steal the land and give it to the Pfizer Corporation, and this act of vulgar larceny received the benediction of the Supreme Court. Lauren was arrested, imprisoned for months, and -- in a touch that would have earned the admiration of Soviet or Chinese commissars -- repeatedly subjected to psychological evaluation.

The "nail households" were hammered down, the Pfizer plant was quickly erected, and the expected kickbacks were delivered. Shortly thereafter the economy collapsed and Pfizer decided to shut down the facility and move its employees elsewhere, leaving behind a rotting and useless building that had been constructed on stolen land.

This case is a mere snapshot of an ongoing national crime wave. Former real estate developer Don Corace writes in his recent book Government Pirates: The Assault on Private Property Rights and How We Can Fight It: "Arrogant and corrupt city and county officials -- with near limitless legal budgets ... continue to align themselves with well-heeled developers, political cronies, and major corporations to prey on the politically less powerful and disenfranchised, particularly minority communities.”

Eminent domain "abuse" (a term that refers to the predictable exercise of an innately illegitimate power) is just one of many ways that property can be blatantly stolen through political means: "Through local zoning and the regulation of wetlands and endangered species, governments take property without compensating owners and also extort land and money in return for approvals." 

This is, of course, exactly the same racket being run by local commissars in the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. It is interesting, and somewhat unsettling, that people to whom private property may be a relatively new and exotic concept seem to have a better understanding of what is happening than do their counterparts here in the putative Land of the Free – and that they display more intrepidity in fighting for their freedom than can be found here in the purported Home of the Brave.

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Dum Spiro, Pugno!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Pseudo-Courage of Chris Kyle

Chris Kyle as a Navy SEAL sniper in Fallujah, Iraq.

That kind of courage, which is conspicuous in danger and enterprise, if devoid of justice, is absolutely undeserving of the name of valor. It should rather be considered as a brutal fierceness outraging every principle of humanity. – 

Cicero, The Offices, Book I Chapter XIX

As a sniper with the Navy SEALs in Iraq, Chris Kyle was shot twice and wounded on several other occasions. He is credited with 160 confirmed kills. He received several commendations. Of his fierceness there is no reasonable doubt. Whether his exploits display courage is an entirely separate question. 

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History, the ghost-written memoir for which Kyle claims primary authorship, offers convincing testimony that Kyle not only failed to display genuine courage in Iraq, but was incapable of recognizing it when it was exhibited by desperate patriots seeking to evict the armed foreigners who had invaded and occupied their country. 

The insurgents who fought the American invasion (and the few “allied” troops representing governments that had been bribed or brow-beaten into collaborating in that crime) were sub-human “savages” and “cowards,” according to Kyle.

“Savage, despicable evil,” writes Kyle. “That’s what we were fighting in Iraq…. People ask me all the time, `How many people have you killed?’... The number is not important to me. I only wish I had killed more. Not for bragging rights, but because I believe the world is a better place without savages out there taking American lives.”

None of the American military personnel whose lives were wasted in Iraq had to die there, because none of them had any legitimate reason to be there. From Kyle’s perspective, however, only incorrigibly “evil” people would object once their country had been designated the target of one of Washington’s frequent outbursts of murderous humanitarianism. 

The insensate savagery of the Iraqi population was supposedly illustrated by the first kill Kyle recorded as a sniper, while covering a Marine advance near Nasiriyah in March, 2003.

“I looked through the scope,” Kyle recalls. “The only people who were moving were [a] woman and maybe a child or two nearby. I watched the troops pull up. Ten young, proud Marines in uniform got out of their vehicles and gathered for a foot patrol. As the Americans organized, the woman took something from beneath her clothes, and yanked at it. She’d set a grenade.”

Kyle shot the woman twice.

“It was my duty to shoot, and I don’t regret it,” Kyle attests. “The woman was already dead. I was just making sure she didn’t take any Marines with her. It was clear that not only did she want to kill them, but she didn’t care about anybody else nearby who would have been blown up by the grenade or killed in the firefight. Children on the street, people in the houses, maybe her child….”

Of course, if the Marines hadn’t invaded that woman’s neighborhood, she wouldn’t have been driven to take such desperate action – but Kyle either cannot or will not understand the motives of an Iraqi patriot.

 “She was … blinded by evil,” Kyle writes of the woman he murdered from a safe distance. “She just wanted Americans dead, no matter what. My shots saved several Americans, whose lives were clearly worth more than that woman’s twisted soul.”

Were Kyle just a touch more literate, he might recognize the term untermenschen, a German expression that encapsulates his view of the Iraqis who took up arms to repel foreign invaders. From his perspective, they were incurably inferior to their “liberators” and possessed of an inexplicable hatred toward their natural betters. 

For some reason many Iraqis resented the armed emissaries of the distant government that had installed Saddam in power, built up his arsenal and apparatus of domestic repression, and then conferred upon the inhabitants of that nation the unmatched blessing of several decades of wars, embargoes, airstrikes, disease, and the early, avoidable deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. 

“The people we were fighting in Iraq, after Saddam’s army fled or was defeated, were fanatics,” Kyle insists. “They hated us because we weren’t Muslim. They wanted to kill us, even though we’d just booted out their dictator, because we practiced a different religion than they did.”

 Actually, most of them probably wanted to kill Kyle and his comrades because they had invaded and occupied their country. They were prepared to use lethal force to protect their homes against armed intruders who had no right to be there. Ironically, Kyle’s book offers evidence that he understands that principle; he simply doesn’t believe that it applies to Iraqis.

In one incident described by Kyle, he and several other U.S. personnel raid an Iraqi home, in the basement of which they discover a mass grave containing the bodies of several soldiers and Marines. For several panic-stricken moments, Kyle is understandably terrified by the thought that he might find the lifeless body of his younger brother, a Marine who had also been deployed to Iraq. 

With obvious and vehement disgust, Kyle cites the “murdered young men whose bodies we had pulled out” of that basement grave as evidence of the bestial nature of the enemy. He exhibits no interest at all in the fact that tens of millions of Iraqis have seen friends and family meet violent, avoidable deaths as a result of the wars and sanctions imposed on their country by Washington. Untermenschen, apparently, aren’t entitled to experience grief and rage – much less the right to defend their homes and families against aggressive violence. 

 After returning from his first combat tour in Iraq, Kyle recalls, he was rudely roused from slumber one morning when the burglar alarm went off. Although this was a malfunction rather than a real emergency, Kyle’s reaction was revealing.

“I grabbed my pistol and went to confront the criminal,” he recalls. “No son of a bitch was breaking into my house and living to tell about it.”
Why was it “evil” for Iraqis to feel exactly the same way about the foreign sons of bitches who broke into their country and wrecked the place? 

Later in the book, describing a stalking exercise during his training to become a sniper, Kyle recounts how he “heard the distinct rattle of a snake nearby.”

“A rattler had taken a particular liking to the piece of real estate I had to cross,” Kyle recalls. “Willing it away didn’t work…. I crept slowly to the side, altering my course. Some enemies aren’t worth fighting.”

Exactly: The only enemies worth “fighting,” apparently, are those who aren’t capable of hurting you when you trespass on their turf. 

The Gadsden Flag – featuring a coiled rattlesnake and the directive “Don’t Tread On Me” – was, and remains, the best symbolic expression of authentic American patriotism. Genuine American patriots can understand why patriots of other countries would feel similar attachments, and be similarly inclined to repel foreign invaders. This is why they will never support any war that puts other Americans in the position of killing foreign patriots who are defending their own homes.  

A rattlesnake defending its territory earns Kyle’s respect; an Iraqi patriot fighting on his home soil with his back to his home and the face to his enemy, however, is “blinded by evil” and not truly human.

“They may have been cowards, but they could certainly kill people,” observes Kyle of the guerrillas. “The insurgents didn’t worry about ROEs [Rules of Engagement] or court-martials [sic]. If they had the advantage, they would kill any Westerner they could find, whether they were soldiers or not.”

If that charge (made on page 87 of Kyle’s book) is accurate, it might reflect the fact that the Iraqi resistance (as well as the tactics of foreign guerrillas who joined the fight) was playing according to ground rules established by the U.S. early in the war. 
On page 79, Kyle describes the Rules of Engagement that his unit followed when they were deployed to Shatt al-Arab, a river on the Iraq-Iran border: “Our ROEs when the war kicked off were pretty simple: If you see anyone from about sixteen to sixty-five and they’re male, shoot ‘em. Kill every male you see. That wasn’t the official language, but that was the idea.” (Emphasis in the original.)

Those orders were of a piece with the studied indifference to civilian casualties that characterized the “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign that began the war. In preparing that onslaught General Tommy Franks and his military planners were guided by a computer program that referred to civilian casualties as “bugsplat.” Franks had no compunction about ordering bombing missions that would result in what the computer projections described as “heavy bugsplat.” After all, aren’t the lives of American military personnel “clearly worth more” – to use Kyle’s phrase -- than those of the Iraqi civilians, who were mere insects to be annihilated?

In one of her occasional contributions to Kyle’s book, his wife Taya rebukes people who criticize the bloodshed wrought in Iraq by her husband and his colleagues: “As far as I can see it, anyone who has a problem with what guys do over there is incapable of empathy.” The trait she describes isn’t empathy; it’s a variation on the kind of pre-emptive self-pity described by Hannah Arendt in her study Eichmann in Jerusalem.

Referring to those who killed on behalf of the Third Reich, Arendt observed:

“What stuck in the minds of these men who had become murderers was simply the notion of being involved in something historic, grandiose, unique (`a great task that occurs once in two thousand years’), which must therefore be difficult to bear. This was important, because the murderers were not sadists or killers by nature; on the contrary, a systematic effort was made to weed out all those who derived physical pleasure from what they did....”

This was true even of those who belonged to the SS: Even those in the Reich’s killer elite were not able to suppress their conscience entirely. Thus the “trick used by Himmler — who apparently was rather strongly afflicted by these instinctive reactions himself — was very simple and probably very effective; it consisted in turning these instincts around, as it were, in directing them toward the self. So that instead of saying: `What horrible things I did to people!,’ the murderers would be able to say: `What horrible things I had to watch in the pursuance of my duties, how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!’"

Kyle’s memoir is remarkable chiefly for the complete absence of the kind of moral anguish Arendt describes among the SS. Kyle eagerly participated in a patently illegal and entirely unnecessary war of aggression against a country that never attacked, harmed, or threatened the United States. He killed scores of people, terrorized thousands more. As Kyle tells the story, he reveled in the experience, and regrets only that he wasn’t able to slaughter more of the “savages” who surrounded him. 

During Kyle’s last deployment to Iraq, his unit – Charlie Company of SEAL Team 3 – assigned themselves the nickname “The Punishers,” appropriating as their insignia the Death’s Head logo used by the psychotic comic book character of the same name. 

Interestingly, a group of police officers in Milwaukee had exactly the same idea. They also adopted the “Punisher” logo, which they displayed on their police vehicles and wore on knitted caps as they prowled the street in search of asses to kick. 

The most memorable exhibition of what they regarded as valor came in October 2004, when a thugscrum of “Punishers” beset a male dancer named Frank Jude, who was nearly beaten to death because he was suspected of stealing a badge. 

After throwing Jude to the ground, the Punishers severely beat, kicked, and choked him – then put a knife to his throat and jammed a pen into one of his ears. The victim survived the assault, but was left with permanent brain damage. The officers later claimed that this amount of violence was necessary to “subdue” Jude – who was never charged in connection with the incident. The jury in the criminal trial accepted that claim and acquitted the officers – who were later found guilty of criminal civil rights violations. 

Imperial troops raid a home in Iraq....
During his service in Iraq, Kyle occasionally functioned as a law enforcement officer of sorts. He was involved in dozens of raids against the homes of suspected “insurgents,” many of whom were arrested on the basis of uncorroborated accusations by anonymous informants. 

He allows that many of the people dragged off in shackles were entirely innocent, but maintains that he wasn't ever troubled by that fact; he was just doing his "duty."  

 Shortly before the war began, Kyle was part of a SEAL unit tasked to enforce UNsanctions against Iraq by intercepting tankers leaving the country with unlicensed oil deliveries. On one occasion, he boarded a tanker commanded by a commercial sea captain who “had some fight in him, and even though he was unarmed, he wasn’t ready to surrender.” 

“He made a run at me,” Kyle continues. “Pretty stupid. First of all, I’m not only bigger than him, but I was wearing full body armor. Not to mention the fact that I had a submachine gun in my hand. I took the muzzle of my gun and struck the idiot in the chest. He went right down.”
... and their domestic counterparts do the same in the U.S.
If Kyle had been a warrior, rather than a bully, he would have admired the authentic courage displayed by the smaller, unarmed man who fought to protect the ship and cargo entrusted to him. 

How would he act if the roles were reversed – if he were the over-matched man trying to defend private property from a group of state-licensed pirates claiming “authority” from a UN mandate? We’ll never know the answer to that question, because Kyle’s “courage” is of the sort that only manifests itself in the service of power, and in the company of those enjoying a prohibitive advantage over their victims. 

 Kyle’s “service” continues, even though he’s retired from the military. He is president of Craft International, a Homeland Security contractor involved in training domestic law enforcement agencies. It’s quite likely that Kyle’s outfit will soak up a considerable portion of the roughly $1.5 billion dollars the Obama administration seeks to hire military veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan to work as police, emergency personnel, and park rangers

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